Aug. 14, 2023
Falling felines, rising fines, and the internet at its best

By David Matthews, Contributing Author

A man in Thailand was shocked to learn that his car had been vandalized. By his neighbor. Who is a cat.

After Apiwat Toyothaka discovered that a giant hole had been smashed into his rear windshield this past May, his condo manager started scouring security camera footage to identify the culprit.

To his surprise, the culprit was a 20-lb cat named Shifu who slipped off his sixth-story balcony, bounced off a third-floor balcony, and then landed on Toyothaka’s car.

The fall would have killed a human being, but Shifu walked away nearly unscathed.

A cat lover himself, Toyothaka shared on Facebook that Shifu was doing well after the fall and that “his body bears no wounds or bruises, except for the absence of two of his claws.”

Shifu’s survival seems miraculous, but not to scientists who research falling cats.

Unlike humans and most other animals, cats have a large surface area in proportion to their weight, which allows them to fall at low speeds and take longer to reach terminal velocity

While Shifu didn’t feel much impact from his fall, his owners did. Since pets are not allowed to live in the complex, his owners were fined and told to relocate Shifu, but this time in a safer manner.

High price to pay

A driver in Finland was ticketed for driving 51 mph in a 30-mph zone in June and received an eye-popping $130,000 fine.

That’s because, in Finland, speeding fines are based both on how fast the motorist was driving and their income.

In this case, the driver was Anders Wiklöf, a multi-millionaire businessman and one of the richest people in Finland.

Wiklöf was required to pay a fine equal to 14 days of his income, which is more than most people make in a whole year.

I really regret the matter and hope that the money is in any case used for healthcare,” Wiklöf told Finland’s HBL newspaper.

It’s not the first time that Wiklöf’s lead foot has cost him a small fortune. The 76-year-old was fined $68,176 for speeding in 2018, and $102,000 in 2013.

Finland isn’t the only country to calculate speeding fines based on the offender's income.

Switzerland uses a similar system., and I In 2010 when a driver was caught racing his Mercedes 125 mph through a 20-mph zone, he received what is believed to be the world’s largest speeding fine: $1.1 million.

A clean sweep 

Buying a compact street sweeper to clear the narrow bike lanes throughout your city is smart.

Allowing the internet to choose the name for your new sweeper is not.

However, that’s exactly what happened this past May in Charlotte, N.C., when the Department of Transportation launched the "Name the Bike Lane Sweeper" online campaign.

Charlotteans submitted over 450 names for consideration, including gems like Cycleangelo and Brush Springsteen.

After careful deliberation, DOT officials narrowed the list down to three finalists: Clearopathra, Sweep Caroline, and the winner, Sweepy McSweepface.

Longtime readers may remember the inspiration for the winning moniker: Boaty McBoatface.

In 2016, Brits famously voted to name a new $287 million polar research vessel “R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface,” a choice that was ultimately vetoed by the British government in favor of the “more suitable” fifth place finisher, “R.R.S. Sir David Attenborough.”

Not anticipating the public outcry after the story went viral, officials ultimately compromised and named one of the ship’s autonomous underwater vehicles Boaty McBoatface.

As a result of that incident, the term "McBoatfacing” is now used by observers of contemporary culture to refer to "making the critical mistake of letting the internet decide things."

To their credit, the Charlotte DOT is sticking with the public’s choice.

“Thank God,” a resident commented on Twitter, “because if they chose Sweep Caroline I was going to move right out of this town.” R&B

About the Author

David Matthews

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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